North High School is old school -- 100 years old, to be exact. And to celebrate its century-ness, the northwest Denver community is throwing a birthday party tomorrow that will double as a celebration of the school's $24.7 million makeover -- which includes a complete renovation of the castle-ish 1911 building, the closest thing Denver has to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
In recent years, North has struggled academically with low test scores, poor attendance and an abysmal graduation rate. For more on North's troubles, read the Westword cover story, "Passing on Education." But Denver Public Schools leaders say they're working to remedy those problems, just as they worked to restore the building's past glory.
North's renovations include 56 new classrooms, ten restored classrooms, a grand new library, a restored astronomy lab, a new JROTC training center, state-of-the-art science labs and an aerobics studio. (What up, Professor Richard Simmons.) North also received a new air conditioning and heating systems, as well as energy-efficient everything from skylights to toilets. North's other buildings, including one built in 1913 that will host a West Denver Prep charter school in 2012, also received some upgrades.
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The renovation was paid for out of $494 million in bond money taxpayers approved for DPS in 2008. Some of the district's projects came in under budget, thanks to favorable market conditions and good project management, says DPS spokeswoman Kristy Armstrong. At North, DPS used that money to build tennis courts and an athletic field.
Tomorrow's celebration kicks off at 10 a.m. and will include speeches and ribbon cutting by such Denver notables as Mayor Michael Hancock and DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg. The festivities will continue on Saturday with the North100 Community Celebration and 3K run from 8 a.m. to noon. Tours of the school will be available at both events, but only Saturday's shindig will also feature entertainment and food vendors. And if you're feeling really fancy, you can plunk down $50 for the North100 Club Reception on Saturday night at Sukle Advertising & Design, 2430 West 32nd Avenue.
Here's wishing North another 100 years!
More from our Education archives: "North High: How many seniors graduated from school that used credit recovery courses?"